Congress

On Senate gun vote, Kansas’ Roberts, Moran stick to party line

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, arrive for a vote on Capitol Hill, Monday, June 20, 2016, in Washington.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, arrive for a vote on Capitol Hill, Monday, June 20, 2016, in Washington. AP

In four procedural votes Monday to restrict the availability of guns to terrorism suspects, Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran voted the party line and none of the measures moved forward.

Both Republicans voted in favor of advancing amendments offered by their own party, and against amendments offered by Democrats.

As expected, very few senators crossed party lines on Monday, in the first attempt to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists since a June 12 shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando left 49 people dead and more than 50 injured.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, had been investigated twice by the FBI for terrorist ties and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State during phone calls during the shooting. Police killed Mateen in a raid on the nightclub, a popular spot in Orlando’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Nearly all of the victims were LGBT and most were Latino.

Kansas Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts voted to advance amendments by Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa and John Cornyn, R-Texas. Both amendments failed to get the 60 votes needed to move forward.

Grassley’s amendment would have provided more funding for background checks for gun buyers, while Cornyn’s would have imposed a 72-hour waiting period on any gun buyer who’s a suspected terrorist.

The Kansas senators voted against moving forward with amendments by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Murphy’s amendment would have closed the “gun show loophole” by expanding background checks to gun show and internet sales. Feinstein’s would have prevented any individual on the federal terrorist watch list from buying a gun.

In statements Monday, Roberts and Moran said they voted for the amendments that would strike a balance between public safety and constitutional guarantees.

“We must keep suspected terrorists from acquiring guns while also protecting law-abiding citizens’ rights,” Moran said.

“These amendments will keep firearms out of the hands of bad actors while at the same time ensuring we do not infringe upon Second Amendment rights,” Roberts said.

Monday’s votes echoed a failed attempt in December to restrict gun sales to suspected terrorists following another shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., at an office holiday party. The Dec. 2 attack left 14 people dead and more than 20 injured in what was then considered the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.

Like Orlando shooter Mateen, the San Bernardino shooters, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook, had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before police shot and killed them.

Curtis Tate: 202-383-6018, @tatecurtis

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